a c k n o w l e d g m e n t s
I am fortunate to be part of a circle of Cuban friends and scholars with
whom I share not only a love of country but also a passion for its literature.
In one way or another, they have left their imprint on Becoming Reinaldo
Arenas, for which I am profoundly grateful. More than thirty years ago
Nivia Montenegro suggested that we interview the recently exiled Reinaldo
Arenas; unbeknownst to me at the time, the seed for this book was then
planted. My heartfelt thanks go to Monte, from whom I have learned much
about Cuba and Arenas, as I have from another friend and cubanólogo,
Enrico Mario Santí. Lesbia Varona, librarian extraordinaire at the Univer-
sity of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection, has made available to me, with
her legendary generosity, countless materials without which I could not
have written this book. Graciella Cruz-Taura and Rosa Perelmuter, enthu-
siastic cheerleaders of this project, o√ered many encouraging words. Ro-
berto Ignacio Díaz, with whom I have a comte and a comtesse in common, has
been a princely interlocutor and fellow traveler since our paths crossed years
ago in central Maine. A special mention goes to Gustavo Pérez Firmat, my
most engaging and toughest critic, who has meticulously read every word
that I have ever written on Reinaldo Arenas. My immense gratitude goes to
him for his insightful comments, keen suggestions, and gentle prodding
during this long journey.
During the many years that it took to write Becoming Reinaldo Arenas, I
was also surrounded by other friends and colleagues who in multiple ways,
big and small, helped to make this book a reality: Silvia Bermúdez, Artie
Greenspan, Christiane Guillois, Steven Maynard, Luis Millones, Mary
Anne Pérez Firmat, Ulla Reidel, Hanna Roisman, Joseph Roisman, and my
poker buddies Lisa Arellano, Ludger Duplessis, Carleen Mandolfo, Joyce
McPhetres, Betty Sasaki, Nat Shed, Julie de Sherbinin, and Ron Turcotte.
My sincere thanks go to all of them for providing support, encouragement,
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